–– All he could do was watch her, listen to her. Tōshirō was brilliant at making the enemy crack, making them spill everything, and it was always satisfying as they crumbled away, hopeless, surrendering what little they had so their life would be spared. But there was nothing satisfying about this, because while he held her, he could feel his energy draining away, every positive emotion he clung onto because of her was rotting. Wasted.
For half a minute, Tōshirō was silent, he didn’t say a word, he barely breathed. She had said so much to him, he was still trying to understand. Then his eyes dropped to her hand holding his. She held him so tightly, desperate, and he looked at her face again. More than anything, he wanted to break the shackles from her wrist, and pull her close. Say he was sorry that this had happened, and help her, but his mind spoke much louder than his bruised heart ever would.
Tōshirō pulled his hand out of her grip, took one step back, then walked away. He now faced the wall, and it was easier to not look at her. Her eyes were too much, her expression was too much, watching her was too fucking much. His chest hurt, it really hurt, and he was tempted rub it better, until he realised it was all mental, internal. The pain was his heart, and it was travelling to his throat, forcing him to cry, to let the tears fall, but he was resilient.
When it became clear why he felt this way, he was able to remove the emotion temporarily. The jealousy couldn’t be a distraction. The disappointment in knowing Rangiku still loved Gin, still missed him, and still visited the one place that reminded her of him. She still thought about him. She still loves that bastard.
In a pathetic attempt to ignore the anger rushing through him, Tōshirō tensed his muscles, clenched his fists and jarred his teeth, snarling at the wall. The reason Rangiku was here was because of Gin Ichimaru. That asshole. That fucking piece of shit still caused trouble when he wasn’t even alive. He still got in the way, still managed to hurt Rangiku.
How much longer until she was free?
'You should have told me. Anyone.' Tōshirō sighed, and tried to remain calm, but he was still furious. Still hurt. 'You're an idiot.' Then he triggered it all. Wheeling around, he glared at her bitterly, and his voice shook while he spoke, 'A fool for doing that! What did you expect to happen? Ever since Ichimaru's betrayal, everyone's been looking at each other in paranoia. That fuck killed so many, hurt so many–– what did you expect to happen?!’
Running his hands through his hair, he inhaled deeply.
'You–– You went back to visit the shack you both shared…' His laugh was more of an exhale, and it was filled with dry humour. 'Matsumoto, I…' Tōshirō swallowed. '… I don't know what to say…'
Of course he believed she was innocent. Damn it, Tōshirō had more reason to be held with suspicion than Rangiku. But the fact she told him nothing, didn’t inform him she still visited the shack, just left him in the dark, was like a dagger to his trust. It shattered it completely. He thought they had been honest to one another; they promised to not share secrets anymore, and now this? What could he say? Why did he have to find out when she was locked up?
'If you told me beforehand, you wouldn't be in this situation. It wouldn't––' wouldn’t have got to this stage, I could have cleared your name before anyone started worrying. But he didn’t know how to finish his sentence. Suddenly, he just felt so exhausted, tired, finished with everything.
He grabbed the chair and leaned forwards against it.
'You are the only person I believe.'
When he faced her again, he gave up trying to act stoic, trying to be this person he wasn’t. When he looked at her again, he showed her what he truly was: confused, troubled and human. He was in pain too from what had happened, and he wasn’t angry at Rangiku. He wasn’t angry that she had gone to visit the shack, he wasn’t angry she had been arrested, and he wasn’t angry that she still loved Gin.
He was just upset.
He was upset. Sad. Quietly breaking apart because of everything that had happened to her, and he just wanted it to end. He wanted to set her free, in every sense of the word, let her go. He wanted Rangiku to smile again.
'I have failed. As a warrior, and as a Captain –– as a friend, I have failed you.' Tōshirō slumped his shoulders in defeat. 'I should have known. I should have known you were still in pain, and I should have been there. I should have helped you, and I should have been there when you were captured.'
I should have saved you from the very beginning.
The chains rattled, echoing off the bear walls as she slowly stood. The metal bit into her tender flesh but she cared little for a pain as she scooted off the bed and took the few steps she was allowed. There she kneeled before him, kneeled like she had the day she vowed to him her life, her blade, her very soul. The day she swore a second time to uphold justice and to remain faithful to the Tenth Division and Soul Society. How odd it was to kneel now in chains, the taint of traitor hanging over her head.
At this moment she cared little of her own plight but more so of the pain that Toshiro was inflicting on himself. The fact that he blamed himself, claimed to be a failure of a warrior, a taichou and a friend, that hurt her more than anything. She hadn’t voiced to him her pain about Gin, about her grieving and her trips to the outer district simply because she felt like a fool. She was mourning the loss of a man twice over – the man she had known had died a long time ago, only to show himself in a split second before his ultimate end had come. She was the failure, still clinging to a hopeless dream. Yet, more importantly she hadn’t voiced the main reason for this final eventful trip – the last trip to say goodbye for good.
“You haven’t failed.” Her words were gentle, comforting as she raised her head to look at him. “I was in pain for a long time, this past year has been hard for me to come to terms with Gin’s death but I’ve managed. The reason I’ve been going was to finally let it go. Today was meant to be the last time, to say goodbye one final time. I realized I didn’t need to cling to that memory anymore – I have plenty of reasons to smile, to be happy, to live and to love.” She paused, shifting as the shackle dug within her tender skin once more.
“You have stood beside me more times than I can remember. In all my darkest hours and in my brightest moments, you have been there Tai – Toshiro.” She smiled softly up at him once more. “However, I needed to say goodbye alone. Make peace with everything and I have. Gin will always be important to me, I’ll always have our memories but I don’t need to hold onto every piece of the past. I was ready to see what the future held…except now I’m afraid I won’t be able to.” A sad smile tugged the corner of her lips up as she gave a nervous chuckle.
Reaching out she managed to take his hands in her own, drawing his finger tips to her lips. “Whatever happens now, know that you’re the reason that I was saying goodbye to Gin.”